Denial of Self

bokI just recently finished re-reading the book Why Small Groups? for a training group with the small group leaders at Atmosphere. I cannot tell you enough how blessed I have been time and time again by C.J. Mahaney and the authors and pastors that helped him in the writing of this book (regardless of what their critics might say about them and their ministry). This time around, I noticed something in particular. On page 82, the author (John Butler) is talking about what it means to serve, and he brings up a quote from Charles Bridges in his book The Christian Ministry:

The duties of the Ministry will constantly exercise Christian self-denial. Thus it was with our Master. His food and rest were even forgone or forgotten in his absorbing delight in saving souls. Seasons of necessary retirement were interrupted without an upbraiding word. Hunger, thirst, cold, or fatigue set no bounds to the determined forgetfulness of Himself.

How many times has the need or desire for food or sleep hindered your ability and desire to serve?

What Jesus Did

In John chapter 4, Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman. His disciples return as she is leaving and insist that He eat something as they had been travelling far and long. He answers them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about” (vs. 32). No He didn’t! In this whole section of Scripture, it doesn’t even record Jesus eating a morsel of communion crackers! So what was He talking about? In verse 34 He explains, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” The work of the Father through the Spirit sustained Him. We have forgotten this sustaining power.

What we do

We forget this daily. The Spirit is there and wanting to aid us, but we get caught up in figuring out our own way of doing things. If Jesus was sustained by the Spirit while He was doing the Father’s work, can’t we do the same? Has this happened to you? Have you ever been serving and forgotten that you hadn’t eaten in the past ten hours? Did God sustain you? This is not sustaining in a sense that you are constantly aware of your hunger and make it known to everyone else, this is a sustaining that allows you to joyfully complete the tasks that are set before you in Christ and later that evening while resting at home in the Word, you remember to eat not knowing when the last time you ate was, but knowing that God was glorified through your work.

If you allow God’s Spirit to fill you and work His Will in you, you will be sustained by the Holy Spirit. May we begin to trust The Spirit and not our stomachs when it comes serving Christ.

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